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Italians rule in Rome as Breen and co. are outpaced


Sad end: Josh McErlean’s Rally di Roma ended with a crash close to the finish line

Sad end: Josh McErlean’s Rally di Roma ended with a crash close to the finish line

Sad end: Josh McErlean’s Rally di Roma ended with a crash close to the finish line

Even Craig Breen was no match for the Italians on their home round of the European Championship, the Rally di Roma.

Despite heading to Italy on the back on a career-best equalling second place in the World Championship Rally Estonia, Breen just made it into the top 10 in his R5 Hyundai as former European champion Giandomenica Basso won in his Skoda Fabia from fellow countryman Andrea Cugnola’s Hyundai.

Callum Devine got off to a bad start with an early puncture, but the Motorsport Ireland Academy driver from Co. Derry came back strongly on the second day to finish just outside the top 20 in his Ford Fiesta.

However, Billy Coleman Award winner Josh McErlean from Kilrea rolled his Hyundai four stages from the end and was forced to retire.

Closer to home, James Wilson finished fifth in the Scottish Rally in his R5 Hyundai, an even better performance by the young Armagh driver spoiled when he was slowed in the dust of a slower car, costing him two places.

Gareth Sayers was 11th in his R5 Fiesta as former British champion David Bogie won in a McGeehan Motorsport WRC Mini.

Meanwhile, Alan Davidson and David McCullough kept Northern Ireland Formula Ford Championship leader Jordan Dempsey off the top step of the podium at Kirkistown on Saturday, the two local drivers picking up a win each.

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Dempsey, from Mulligar, had won the previous two rounds in June, but despite being on pole in his Van Diemen for race one, it was Davidson in his Mondiale who jumped into the lead. Although Dempsey briefly got back in front, Davidson regained the lead as David Parks came charging through from fifth to snatch second.

Reigning champion McCullough was out after just half-a-dozen laps, but he responded in race two, snatching the lead on lap three and although Dempsey led him over the line on lap 13, the Ballymena driver fought back to take the flag by less than a second. Davidson was third.

Jim Larkham was a double winner in the Roadsports category in his Radical and Donal O’Neill and Greg McMillan also scored back-to-back win in the Saloons/Mazda races although Gerard O’Connell in his RSR Escort was the outright winner.

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